A few days ago,I had the honor of listening to Nicholas Kristof’s presentation at the Newport Beach Library Foundation where I volunteer. I had recently seen him and his wife Sherly WuDunn on Oprah, talking about the need for gender equality among the world. Their recent book, Half the Sky is based on the Chinese proverb that women hold up half the sky.
Kristof and WuDunn state that, “Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.” If we make loans available to women, they are more likely to spend it on educating their kids and starting a business. Men often waste it on alcohol, prostitutes and festivities. His point is that it makes sense to invest in women.
Half the Sky is based on true stories of women and girls around the world. Kristof briefly mentioned so many aspects which he covers in the book.
1). In Liberia, West Africa, 90% of females over the age of 3, have been sexually attacked.
2). The 1780’s was the peak of slavery, with 80,000 slaves imported from Africa. Today we have 800,000 slaves a year trafficked across boarders.
3). In 2004 Kristof purchased two girls from brothels in Cambodia for $150 and $200,and received receipts for them. He did this to rescue them. Problem is many girls run back to the brothel as they are addicted to meth, a way for the brothel owners to control them.
4). In India, they beat the uncooperative girls to death in front of the other girls, in the brothel.
5). In Niger, there is a one in seven chance of dying during childbirth. A 13-year-old’s pelvis cannot accommodate the baby and the girl is left incontinent and often with nerve damage in her legs.
DOES AID WORK?
Kristof replied, “Some does and some doesn’t. We are getting better at figuring out what to do. Health, education, micro-financing, water and nutrition aid, has had a BIG IMPACT.”
Kristof mentioned other examples of what is cheap and works:
De-worming, only costs 50 cents/pill and lasts a year. By de-worming, kids are more likely to stay in schools 30 extra days/year.
Now I understand why Nurse Judy, explained how critical it was for us to give the kids in Red Bank, Belize a de-worming pill, and that the government of Belize, wants each kid to be logged into the computer system.
High school girls drop out of school because they can’t handle menstruation, and can’t get pads or underwear. Making these available for young girls, is another way to help them get educated.
Kristof’s book is so full of stories and information that my eyes are opening globally. My one recent experience volunteering in Belize, has made me hungry to write about, and get involved with international work. Not surprising since I myself feel like a citizen of the world.
What are your thoughts on coming to the aid of women and girls around the world? Do you think this is the way to change global poverty?